Athens retires from Christmas tree race

After clinging for six dizzy years to the top of the European Christmas tree league, Athens is to retire from competition this year, Mayor Dora Bakoyianni said yesterday. Bakoyianni told a press conference on the municipality’s plans for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations that this year’s «all-green, natural-looking» Christmas tree in central Syntagma Square will be 13.5 meters high – over three times shorter than the metal structure bedecked with colored lights first put up by her predecessor, Dimitris Avramopoulos, in 1997. Avramopoulos had billed the pole, which reached a grand total of 45 meters, as the biggest in Europe. It has reportedly been given away to the town of Argos. Bakoyianni promised a string of events from December 12 to January 7, including a confectionary display, fireworks and a New Year’s Eve concert in Syntagma Square.